She worked in the city, and would travel home via the train. I used to watch her walk down the street to her house, which was next door to mine.
"Hello, Mrs. Brown!" I shouted.
"Miss Brown!" she would firmly reply. I couldn't get it to stick in my juvenile head that the elderly man she lived with and cared for was her father, not her husband. Miss Brown had a dignified beauty, neat as a pin. I never saw her in anything except dresses, and her red hair was always worn up in a French twist. I don't believe she stood over 5'0 tall, if even that; yet for a brief time, she was a giant in my life.
I once sat on the steps outside our house, crying. Inside, my parents were screaming at each other, loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear. Miss Brown came over and took me by the hand, and, without a word, lead me into her parlor. Handing me a small piece of cloth, some thread, and a needle, she sat beside me and taught me how to do a running stitch. I'll never forget the deep, steady tick of the grandfather clock in that room. To this day, that sound gives me a feeling of calm.
Then there was the sunny afternoon that had suddenly turned to rain. Miss Brown's sun-dried wash was still hanging on the line. I quickly got to work and slipped the full basket through her cellar door (back in the day when a person could leave the door unlocked.) Later that afternoon, there was a knock on my door.
"Did you rescue my laundry?" She asked.
"Yes," I nodded. She smiled and handed me a china figurine. "I've had him ever since I was a child," she said, "he used to have a mate, but she broke years ago. I believe he would like to live with you now. Take care of him."
We were shuffled around a lot as kids, but everywhere I went, he went with me. With every move he was carefully wrapped in newspaper. However, on one journey when I was a teen, his head broke off. I glued it back on with clear nail polish. Hey, it worked. I'm amazed he survived after 48 years. I'm still taking care of him, Miss Brown.
There are many more stories I could tell you about her. When I get to Heaven, I'm going to give that little lady a big kiss, and thank her for being a life-raft when things were horribly stormy. I do believe there is a God Who cares, and Who places the willing in our path throughout our lives. I guess the best thank-you I can give Marion Brown is to live by the example she set.
I bet all of us, if we tried, could look back on our pasts and remember those who stood like guide posts to Heaven, even when we were yet far off. I don't remember Miss Brown talking much, but her loving actions spoke volumes. She truly did love her neighbor.